The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 8, 2013

One more test

ATLANTA — Virginia Commonwealth’s press.

Syracuse’s zone.

Michigan has handled every test so far. Now it’s time for the final exam — a Louisville team that is the NCAA tournament’s top overall seed.

Michigan is trying for its first national title since 1989, and Monday night will be its first appearance in the championship game since 1993, when the Fab Five lost to North Carolina. The last two decades have been difficult for the Wolverines, but after sanctions and mediocrity, they’re back in the spotlight at college basketball’s signature event.

Coach John Beilein’s team is plenty talented, but point guard Trey Burke and the Wolverines have reached this moment because of their smarts — and their ability to adjust quickly to new challenges.

“It means a lot to Michigan,” Burke said. “This program hasn’t been this far in two decades, so just to be back in this situation definitely means the world to alumni and it means the world to us. That’s been our No. 1 goal since Day One.”

It was clear from the start that this could be a special team. Led by Burke, the Wolverines won their first 16 games and were eventually ranked No. 1 in the nation at the start of February.

But as Beilein stressed over and over, it was still a young team. Burke, the consensus national player of the year, is a sophomore. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is a junior, but Michigan relies a lot on freshmen Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas.

When the NCAA tournament began, the Wolverines still had a lot to prove — but this team’s mental strength should not be underestimated.

On the first weekend of the tournament, Michigan faced VCU in the round of 32. After only a day to prepare for the Rams’ chaotic full-court press, the Wolverines breezed to a 25-point win.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • OU V UNT Sooners blank Mean Green thanks to one-hit shutout from Stevens

    Kelsey Stevens’ impact at Oklahoma continues to grow....

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sooners rolling in almost every program

    It doesn’t seem so long ago, yet it’s been almost a decade since I wrote a snarky, though not inaccurate column questioning the head-coach-hiring skills of Sooner athletics director Joe Castiglione....

    April 24, 2014

  • Grizzlies Thunder Basketball Grizzlies will let Russ shoot

    During the hey day of L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, a new term was added to the lexicon. Anyone who seemingly was able to slow down the prolific scorer was automatically dubbed the Kobe Stopper. Players such as Ruben Patterson, Raja ...

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tigers, T-Wolves set for showdown

    For many teams in Norman, the Crosstown Clash is the biggest date on their schedule. It’s the game that can make or break the season. The one that determines bragging rights, and the one that the players are most concerned about....

    April 24, 2014

  • Emmert seeks big changes to NCAA

    INDIANAPOLIS — Mark Emmert wants the NCAA to fast-track upgrades for college athletes — regardless of whether a player union is pushing for them....

    April 24, 2014

  • North playing for big picture, NHS fighting for a better place at the table

    While the focus for the next two days will be on the Crosstown Clash, there's also an important postseason race taking place for Norman High and Norman North's baseball teams....

    April 24, 2014

  • Mets edge Cards

    NEW YORK — With a 360-foot relay in the ninth inning, the New York Mets prevented a hard-fought victory from vanishing in the wind....

    April 24, 2014

  • Seahawks will open against Packers

    NEW YORK — As Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks get to kick off the NFL’s regular season by hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 4....

    April 24, 2014

  • Heat hold off ’Cats

    MIAMI — LeBron James drove to the rim as time was winding down, got clobbered by Josh McRoberts and sat on the hardwood gathering himself for a few seconds afterward. It was fitting. Miami took Charlotte’s best shot, and survived....

    April 24, 2014

  • Mavs even series with Spurs

    SAN ANTONIO — Monta Ellis scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece....

    April 24, 2014

Facebook